On Monday night, the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Washington Capitals in the opening game of the final round of the postseason. It was a spirited affair – so much so in fact that the game even included something that had only happened twice before, in 1992 and 1936 before that.
What was it? Simple. Four lead changes. Yes. Four. Four lead changes occurred from the opening face off, to the final horn – and no we aren’t counting the very Sin City-esque on-ice, in-arena show prior to puck drop.
With Vegas striking first midway through the first period, Washington bounced back with two quick goals less than a minute apart. Following suit, the Golden Knights scored back-to-back goals before the Caps went back ahead with two more goals of their own.
It was at that point, just a minute-and-a-half into the third period and down by one goal that Winnipeg product Ryan Reaves stepped up to the plate. Acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, the fourth line agitator collected his second goal in as many games by cross checking Capitals’ defenceman John Carlson to the ice, and hammering at a loose puck in the slot.
Tomas Nosek later brought the roof off the T-Mobile Arena with a go-ahead strike halfway through the frame, before adding an empty netter with a mere three seconds left to play.
Reaves – whose father Willard, spent many seasons as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ running back – finished game one with a goal, a series-high three shots on net, three hits, and was a +2 in just under 10 minutes of ice time.
Reaves’ teammate, Cody Eakin – also a Winnipegger – did not provide much in his 13:25 of ice time, finishing the game as a -1.
Winnipegger Madison Bowey once again did not dress for the Capitals Monday, but should Washington win Lord Stanley’s Mug, his name would still be engraved on the Cup as he did dress in over 41 regular season games for the Capitals. Dauphin native and Washington Head Coach Barry Trotz will need to find a replacement for the Caps’ hot-lap at Wednesday’s morning skate, as his tactics did not work Monday.
Game two goes Wednesday in Vegas at 7:00 P.M. central time, and can be viewed live on CBC and Sportsnet.